Generational Grief and Growth by Rachel Sankey

Books & Literature Aug 10, 2021

The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go
by Amy Reichert
Book Review

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert transports the reader to midwestern Milwaukee, Wisconsin to tell the story of three generations of women. The novel weaves past grief into present grief as characters process the tides of life in order to grow.

Regina (Gina) Zoberski is an undying optimist, despite her mother Lorraine’s constant judgement and her teen daughter May’s unending apathy towards their relationship. Since the death of Gina’s husband, Drew, she has struggled to keep her family and mental health together. Gina creates lists to stay in check.

When Lorraine suffers from a stroke and Gina fears her mom will never recover, she creates a list of ten questions to ask her mom. The list is the only way Gina can deal with her complex emotions as the week unfolds.

The Optimists’ Guide to Letting Go is split up by the questions Gina asks Lorraine. These questions present stories of love, loss, grief, and family, and the intersectionality intertwined among the women. Some of the questions on Gina’s list include, What is one fact you know to be true?, What’s been your greatest joy?, and What was your greatest heartbreak?

All three women are at very different stages of their lives: Gina as a middle-aged woman who lost her husband, Lorraine in old age with regrets of a lost life, and May struggling to navigate her teenage years after the loss of her father. Despite their differences, each section of the book spotlights the overall arc they share. It is the shared sentiments and experiences that draws them together.

Reichert’s writing style demonstrates the push and pull of the simplistic and the captivating to portray the everyday reality of real life. She uses The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go to highlight the daily struggles of family, growth, and grief, reminding readers they aren’t alone in hardship and that those hardships can metamorphosize into something better.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go paints the realistic story of family life in a midwestern town while asking the reader to reflect on their own life and ten vulnerable answers.

Amy E. Reichert will present at this year’s Fox Cities Book Festival. Sign up for the panel by clicking on this link: Webinar Registration - Zoom or view the whole schedule at FoxCitiesBookFestival.org.

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